In The Margins

Bret Stephens had an award-winning career writing columns on the top of the Op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal. His conservative take on politics was thoughtful and balanced, as he appreciated nuance in the topics that he covered. He is continuing that insightful analysis over at The New York Times.

In an article printed on June 15, 2017 entitled “The Indigenous American Berserk Strikes Again,” Stephens wrote about the shooting of a Republican politician at the hands of a liberal wacko. He cautioned both liberals and conservatives to not draw any particular conclusions from the actions of a sole operator from the margins of society. A “one-off” does not mean that all liberals will be out to attack conservatives, any more than the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords in January 2011 meant that conservatives were out to physically harm liberals. (Liberals made such an argument at that time).

It is a lesson that his new colleague at the NY Times, Thomas Friedman, needs to learn.

As described in “Thomas Friedman thinks Palestinians are Crazy in the Margins, While Israel is Crazy in the Mainstream,” Friedman has a long history of exaggerating marginal Israeli “radicals” and minimizing the mainstream Palestinian “radicals.”

  • Friedman described Israel as having a “right-wing” government, simply because it included a nationalistic party that had just 5% of the seats in the parliament. He neglected to mention that Israelis voted much more for the anti-Zionist Arab Joint List to 14% of the population
  • He described acting-President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas as a “moderate,” while labeling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as an extremist, even though it is Abbas that: argues for a country free of Jews; has capital punishment for Arabs that sells land to Jews; has laws that excuse men for the honor killing of their wives; incites violence against Israeli Jews; etc.
  • The vast majority of Israelis favor a peaceful settlement with the Stateless Arabs from Palestine (SAPs), while 93% of Palestinian Arabs are anti-Semites, more than any other region in the world. The SAPs voted the terrorist group Hamas to 58% of the seats in the Palestinian Authority government.

Stephens argued convincingly that actions of a lone radical should not tarnish the majority: “the fact that events are frightening, bloody and tragic doesn’t necessarily make them especially meaningful…. In 2011 the left wanted to blame millions of Americans for the acts of one crazed man. The indictment served nobody.

Bret Stephens speaking at an event in Westchester, NY July 2015

Meanwhile Friedman – and many liberals – seemingly use an inverted approach, whereby the actions of the PA leadership and majority of SAPs should be ignored, while the opinions of a minority of Israeli Jews should be scrutinized.

Why do liberals exaggerate the fringe while conservatives concentrate on the majority?

Self-Reliance versus Helping Out

Historically, liberals and conservatives could agree to disagree on a particular policy, say abortion. The action was debated about whether it should be legal or banned. Tax policy and welfare were topics to be debated. Climate change. Gun policy. Healthcare.

But the conversation has changed. Today political pundits talk about people. Defining the conservatives/liberals themselves is the focus, not policies.

According to Pew Research. conservatives primarily value responsibility, faith and hard work. In contrast, liberals are more drawn to empathy and helping others. This split in focus helps explain the different approaches to people in the margins of society.

In a conservative mindset, someone’s position in society is a result of actions for which they are responsible. In a traditional bell curve in which the vast majority sit in the middle, everyone – including those in the margins – got there as a result of their own actions. The successful people were the beneficiaries of hard work and risk, while the failures at the other end of the spectrum got there because of poor decisions and/or the lack of determination.

Conservatives study the habits of the successful as they attempt to emulate their path.Those at the top are their focus. When they look at the downtrodden, they are as case studies of actions to avoid.

Meanwhile liberals do not necessarily focus on what actions got a person into their predicament as much as how to get them out. The value of helping others puts liberals into an active mode of assistance. The successful outliers do not need help; they are not part of the liberal orientation. The liberals only attach themselves to the downtrodden – a select segment of those on the margins.

Conservatives and liberals are drawn to opposing ends of the spectrum because of their underlying value system. But conservatives use a common approach to all segments of society and learn from each; liberals end up only relating to a small segment of society. Right-leaning people extract data from both the majority and minority to validate their opinions, while left-leaning people can best apply their values of empathy to a select minority.

Liberal “Progessivism” versus Conservative “Traditionalism”

Not everything that divides conservatives and liberals can be divided between the attractions to the successful and the downtrodden. Sometimes it is the approach to religion and tradition.

Liberals are much less religious than conservatives. Pew polls found that only 36% of liberals found religion as important in their lives, while that figure was almost double – 70% for conservative Americans.

Free from traditional religious constraints, liberals have embraced homosexuality (which has been traditionally viewed as a sin) more than conservatives. Are most people homosexuals? No, they are a minority.

Liberals have also been drawn to the current trend of “self-identity.”

How many truly transgender people are there? It’s infinitesimal. But liberals have taken up this minority as consistent with their credo for empathy and helping others. They have pushed society’s traditional view of gender and advanced that the public must accommodate this new self-identity in matters such as public bathrooms. Conservatives have been appalled at both the new non-binary view of gender, and the demand that the public must adopt to their worldview.

The more religious and traditional conservatives have mostly remained with the majority in these matters of gender and sexual preference, while liberals have loudly campaigned for the minority.

The Parties in the Margin

While the two main political parties have hemmed to the margins, the parties themselves have become marginalized.

Democrats are much more liberal than ever in history, as the liberal wing grew to 44% of the party in 2016 from just 30% in 2000 according to Gallup. Not surprisingly, this liberal Democratic party has rushed to embrace far-left extremists like Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. As they have done so, Gallup polls show that the percentage of Americans that identify as Democrats has declined to 30%.

Republicans similarly have become more conservative, and their share of Americans stands at only 26%, even less than Democrats.

The beneficiaries are Independents who now account for 43% of Americans, more than Democrats or Republicans. These independents may share some values of liberals and conservatives, but have a negative feeling about the main policy issues and leadership of the two parties.


Those at the margins are part of our society, but they do not define our society.

As Democrats become more liberal and place an exaggerated focus on the margins, they will continue to marginalize their own political party. It will also continue to benefit Independents and thoughtful writers like Bret Stephens that do not get caught up in trendy thinking that obfuscates truths.


Related First.One.Through articles:

“Coastal Liberal Latte-sipping Politically-correct Out-of-touch Folks.”

Liberals’ Biggest Enemies of 2015

Magnifying the Margins, and the Rise of the Independents

Liberal’s Protest Bubble Harms Democracy

American Hate: The Right Targets Foreigners, The Left Targets Americans

Libertarian Validation and Absolution

Palestinians are “Desperate” for…

Subscribe YouTube channel: FirstOneThrough

Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through  Israel Analysis

Advertisements

Thomas Friedman Thinks Palestinians are Crazy in the Margins, While Israel is Crazy in the Mainstream

He should learn some math.

 

Thomas Friedman is an acclaimed columnist for the New York Times. He won three Pulitzer Prizes for his writing on the Hama, Syria massacre in 1982, the First Palestinian Intifada against Israel, and for his writings about terrorism after 9/11.

One would think he had a pretty good command of the facts about the players in the Middle East. However, a review of Friedman’s op-ed pieces since the Gaza War against Israel in 2014 would reveal disturbing lies.

Thomas Friedman
Author and journalist Thomas Friedman

On May 25, 2016, Friedman wrote an article called “Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel-Palestine.” The article denounced the addition of Yisrael Beytenu into the ruling coalition government headed by Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu. Friedman wrote that Israel had become “controlled by Jewish extremists.”

Lie 1, “controlled by Jewish extremists. Israel is a thriving democracy with liberal values in the heart of the volatile, illiberal Middle East ruled by monarchs, military strongmen and dictators.  In the 2015 Israeli election, the Likud Party won the most seats in the Israeli parliament (30) and formed a coalition government. That coalition had a slim majority with only 61 of the 120 total seats, making it vulnerable to any single party’s whims to take down the government. To relieve such pressure and instability, Netanyahu sought to add to the coalition, first negotiating with the opposition party, Zionist Union (24 seats), before settling on the nationalist party, Yisrael Beytenu (6 seats).

Yisrael Beytenu, the most right-wing of the parties in the coalition, does not “control” the government. It was added to an existing ruling coalition to provide a broader base of stability.

Lie 2, “controlled by Jewish extremists. The term “Jewish extremists” is used often by Friedman (as it is at the United Nations). The latter uses the term freely, even as it denounces using the term “extremism” for any other religion.

As detailed in “Palestinian Authority Perfects Hypocrisy,” the political party Yisrael Beytenu, is indeed a nationalistic party, but it is a far cry from Hamas (which Friedman labeled as a group with “an apocalyptic jihadist agenda” in his August 6, 2014 op-ed). It is also much less radical that the Palestinian Authority which Freidman called “moderate” in the same piece. That “moderate” Palestinian Authority calls for all Jews to be banned from the West Bank. It prohibits Jews from stepping foot on college campuses. It calls for the death penalty for any Arab that sells land to Jews.

That’s moderate according to Friedman?

Maybe the PA is moderate relative to Hamas, but Yisrael Beytenu is certainly more moderate than the PA.

Lie 3, “Netanyahu’s steady elimination of any possibility that Israel will separate itself from the Palestinians in the West Bank.” Friedman never mentions that it was Netanyahu that pulled Israel out of half of the Holy Basin of Jerusalem-Bethlehem in 1996 during his first premiership. Friedman also never mentions the various peace talks Netanyahu has engaged in and his freeze on settlements.

Friedman prefers to state that Israel wants to forever “occupy” Palestinian Arabs, as he wrote in February 10, 2016 “Israel [is] determined to permanently occupy all of the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, including where 2.5 million West Bank Palestinians live.” Why deliberately not mention Israel’s unilateral move out of Gaza in 2005? Because in exchange for that action, Israel was rewarded with over 10,000 rockets from Gaza in to Israel?

Why not mention the Separation Barrier, built by Israel during the Second “Intifada.” If Israel was intent on keeping all of Judea and Samaria, why did it build a separation wall?

Lie 4, Israel as a country is nationalistic and racist, while the Palestinians are moderate and seeking peace.  Friedman does not state this outright, but his various articles repeatedly describe a rightward shift in Israel and refers to any Palestinian Arab that is not Hamas, as a moderate.

At the end of Hamas’s 2014 War from Gaza, Friedman wroteEither Arab and Israeli moderates collaborate and fight together, or the zealots really are going to take over this neighborhood.”  Where are these moderates on each side?

Israelis voted in 2015, and gave its most right-wing party 5% of the seats in parliament.  It gave the extreme anti-nationalist Arab Joint List 13 seats, or over 11% of the parliament. That’s twice as many people that wanted to see the country lose its Jewish character, rather than strengthen it.  It also meant that 84% of the country did NOT vote on extreme nationalistic lines.  Compare that to the millions in the United States voting in 2016 for Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Americans have voted on the polar extremes much more than Israel, even while Israel faces existential threats from Iran, and has ISIS, Hezbollah and Hamas at its borders.

On the Palestinians side, the Arabs last voted in 2006, and gave the virulent anti-Semitic jihadist terrorist group Hamas 58% of the seats in parliament. The Palestinians have not been able to hold any elections since that time.

Yet Thomas Friedman continues to write that it is Israel that is controlled by extremists, while the Palestinians are governed by a moderate government.

The leader of that moderate government, acting-President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, is simply inept, not extreme, as Friedman wrote The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, sacked the only effective Palestinian prime minister ever, Salam Fayyad, who was dedicated to fighting corruption and proving that Palestinians deserved a state by focusing on building institutions, not U.N. resolutions.”

For Friedman, Abbas doesn’t do anything extreme. He is a moderate, but simply a poor administrator.

As to the Palestinian people, a poll published by the Anti Defamation League in April 2014 found that almost every single Palestinian Arab- 93% – harbor anti-Semitic views.  Friedman never wrote about that poll’s findings.


When people are led to believe that the Palestinians are moderate and are led by a moderate leader, and the only Arab extremists are a few lunatics on the fringe (Hamas), it becomes easy to blame Israel for the stalemate in peace negotiations.

So Friedman leaves his readers with the following summations in his editorials:

“Israel is a really powerful country. It’s not a disarmed Costa Rica. No one expects it to give up everything. But fewer and fewer can understand why it puts so much energy into explaining why it can’t do anything, why the Palestinians are irredeemably awful and why nothing Israel could do would affect their behavior. I truly worry that Israel is slowly committing suicide, with all the best arguments.”

October 28, 2015

This is not your grandfather’s Israel anymore”

February 10, 2016

“For those of us who care about Israel’s future, this is a dark hour.”

May 25, 2016

The winner of the Pulitzer Prize continues to paint Israel as the extremists “slowly committing suicide.” Perhaps those that care about the country should react strongly and force it to take corrective actions (sound like a J Street call out to US President Obama to side against Israel at the United Nations Security Council?)  This is the clarion call for liberals: we condemn Israel because we care, not because we hate it.

There is certainly no call to moderate the “moderate” Palestinians, as pretending they are moderate is core to the belief system of pinning the responsibilities on Israel.  It also allows the progressives to align themselves with these moderate, peace-seeking people.

Such is the liberal war against Israel.


Related First.One.Through articles:

What do you Recognize in the Palestinians?

Palestinians are “Desperate” for…

Abbas Knows Racism

Extreme and Mainstream. Germany 1933; West Bank & Gaza Today

The Left-Wing’s Two State Solution: 1.5 States for Arabs, 0.5 for Jews

The Palestinians aren’t “Resorting to Violence”; They are Murdering and Waging War

Subscribe YouTube channel: FirstOneThrough

Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through  Israel Analysis